Guadalupe F. is 29 and has worked in an office as an
administrator for five years. Recently, while talking to a
coworker, she learned she earns less. Although neither mentioned
it, Guadalupe is sure to know why they have different salaries: she
weighs 172 pounds, 50 more than her coworker.
Guadalupe’s case is not unique. According to the records of the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination (CSWD), workers who weight more than the average earn $1.25 less per hour. But not only obese people suffer from this discrimination: it is estimated that slightly overweight women earn 6% less than thin employees.
A Growing Trend According to a study by Yale University, published in the International Journal of Obesity, 5% of men and 10% of women suffer from discrimination because of their weight and height. However, the rate increases when overweight is higher: 40% of people with an average Body Mass Index (BMI) over 35 suffers from discrimination. While women are three times more discriminated than men, researchers found that, in some cases, the prevalence of weight discrimination is higher than that of race or gender.
Title VII of the Civil Rights (1964) states that all Americans have the right to employment without discrimination because of race, color, sex, religion, or birthplace. Although weight is not included in the list, the law suggests that discrimination involves any type of different treatment towards a person because of a specific characteristic. Only the state of Michigan and the District of Columbia include “weight” or “personal appearance” as a specific classification, together with gender, religion, race, and place of origin.
To Feel Better, Speak Out Loud
In order to end discrimination by weight in terms of health care, media, education, and employment, the CSWD shares some recommendations:
• Free yourself from the weight obsession: Read books on the subject, attend a support group or an institution that supports “friendly sizes” to overcome the negative body image you have.
• Learn about the matter. Become interested in what institutions and organizations are doing in the field of weight discrimination, eating disorders, and issues concerning body image.
• Become and informed consumer. Begin to analyze the media with a critical view. Don’t let them deceive you with weight loss products. Don’t trust promises that seem too good to be true.
• Be sure to have a serious doctor who doesn’t have prejudices. Consult your doctor about the weight loss program you wish to undertake. Ask for support whenever you need it.
• Don’t allow weight discrimination. Whenever you hear or see someone discriminate somebody else because of weight or size, speak out loud and express your opinion. If someone tells a joke about fat people, don’t laugh.
Dozens of books have been written about the experiences of people who have been discriminated because of their religion or skin color. Begin to write your own story, raising your voice every time you’re against discrimination. It can be your own experience or somebody else’s. Remember silence is the best ally of those you discriminate.
Source: “Perceptions of weight discrimination: prevalence and comparison to race and gender discrimination in America”, R M Puhl, T Andreyeva1 and K D Brownell ( www.nature.com) and Council on Size and Weight Discrimination
© 2016 HolaDoctor